Oonjal is one ceremony that is a delight for everyone who is involved in the wedding. The oonjal/unjal (swing in English) ceremony generally takes place right after the exchange of garlands once the groom returns after Kasi Yatra.
The swing which is called Oonjal in Tamil is where the bride and groom will be seated. The swing is decorated beautifully with flowers and kolam(designs made out of wet rice flour). In this ritual, the bride is assumed to be a representation of Radha and the groom that of Krishna and their feet are washed with milk. The couple are made to sit on the swing, are rocked back and forth gently, and the women in the family sing songs to celebrate the occasion.
The Significance of Oonjal in Tamil Brahmin Iyengar Wedding Rituals
The swing represents the strength that the couple has to find in each other throughout their lives. It also serves as a reminder to have each other's back during hard times. One of the interesting aspects in Oonjal is that the couple is not allowed to place their feet on the ground even though the swing is being pushed to and fro by elders in the family. The couple is allowed to hold the swing or each other but should not keep the feet down, this makes it exciting as well as a fun ceremony. It is a belief that their life would be smooth just like how they swing joyfully on the ‘oonjal’.
Pidi Sutral ritual during Oonjal
The couple is protected from kan drishti (evil eye). A handful of coloured rice is taken and is circled around the bride and groom and is thrown in all four directions of the couple, towards the left, right, front and back.
The elders of the family take turns to bless the couple and sing oonjal songs. This ritual is one of the most relaxing and fun parts of the wedding celebrations. Not only does it involve all the elders in the family, but it also serves as a pleasant memory to look back.